Planning to conquer the great outdoors with man’s best friend?
Whether you’re camping, backpacking or hiking, the adventure is definitely a lot more enjoyable if you bring your dog along. Not only is it a nice break from the monotony, your dog will also be in its natural element exploring the wilderness.
Unfortunately, the trip can turn sour if you don’t plan around keeping your pooch warm. Sure, most dogs have great insulation and will be more than fine during the day. But once the sun sets, temperatures can drop drastically. The effect is much worse if its winter or you’re camping in an overly cold location.
In addition to enhancing health and comfort levels, keeping your dog warm while camping will help reduce stress levels as well. Research shows that it can minimize health issue flare-ups such as arthritis.
In this post, we’ll look at several ways to keep Fido warm while out in the wilderness. We’ll also include a whole entrée of other essentials for cold weather camping with man’s best friend.
How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?
As we mentioned earlier, dogs have their own insulation. Their coats keep them warm and comfortable in cold conditions above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. But if the temperatures slip below 40 F, then it’s a very bad idea to keep your pooch outdoors for extended periods of time.
Another element to factor in is the size of your dog. Smaller dogs tend to get colder much faster than larger mutts. This means that a Great Dane will be able to handle the cold better than a chiwawa or pug.
Similarly, you’ll also need to consider how thick your dog’s coat is. Thin hair coated dogs will definitely get colder much faster than dogs with thick coats. However, there is another factor that a lot of people tend to overlook.
How active your dog is will certainly affect its core temperature. A young, active dog will be able to generate heat by running and jumping around while an inactive pooch will just huddle in a corner to stay warm.
Signs Your Dog Is Too Cold
If you’re out camping with your dog, there will be some obvious signs that they might be too cold. Some signs to watch out for include shivering or whimpering. Likewise, the dog might also be cold to the touch.
Other mutts tend to get tired and lethargic. This could also mean they’re sick. If you notice some of the signs mentioned here, make sure you find a way to warm up your dog or just get them back home.
How To Keep Your Dog Warm In The Wilderness
1: Know thy canine
You need to be fully aware of what your dog can and can’t handle.
Some canines are better build for cold environs while others will feel the cold stronger and quicker. As such, it’s of the utmost importance to respect what your pupper can handle. Failure to do this could lead to a camping trip spend solely trying to keep your pup from shivering.
You also need to be a tad realistic. See, if your dog has spent its entire life in warm, cozy indoors, you just can’t surprise it with a trip to winterland.
How about starting with a simple hike on a chilly evening to see how the dogs behave. This will really help you and your dog get a taste before fully committing to an entire overnight camping trip.
2: Keep your dog dry
This is hands down the first and most important step to keeping your dog warm and toasty.
Before we even touch on blankets and tents, you need to make sure your pups are completely dry all the time. If you think it’s hard in cold weather, water will make a cold day even colder.
Keep your pooch away from lakes, rivers and ponds. Likewise, make sure they stay in the tent if it’s raining outside. You might even consider a waterproof jacket if it’s raining or snowing to boost the natural protection that their fur provides.
And in the event that your dog accidentally gets wet or steps in water, try to dry them out quickly and warm them up.
3: Feed your dog more
We all know that heat is generated from the inside. So no matter how many layers you cover your dog in, it won’t matter if they’re hungry or malnourished.
Now, there is a balance to be observed here. Normally, dog owners know to decrease the number of calories their pets consume during winter months because of less activity and fewer walks.
But while camping, you exercise and move a lot more, therefore it is necessary to increase food consumption. Feeding your dog more will help boost their energy levels and make it easier to stay warm.
According to PETMD, your dog might need as much as three times the number of regular calories when it’s cold compared to warm weather. The only downside here might be an overly excited or restless dog due to an increase in energy levels.
4: Good ol’ cuddles
In survival movies, people always huddle together to stay warm. Since you already enjoy sitting back and relaxing with your dog, why not make this part of the solution?
If you find your dog shivering at night, you should bring them near you and give plenty of cuddles. Not only does this keep them toasty, it also makes them feel safe and loved.
If you have more than one dog, you’ll find that they will cuddle each other to share body heat. Another tip might be to unzip your sleeping bag and let your dog lay down beside you.
If you build a campfire, then it’s problem solved. Before you retire in your tent for the night, let your dog hang out by the campfire with you. The heat of the fire will keep the chill off so he’s already warm and toasty when it’s time for bed.
5: Choose the right bedding
Camping 101 – the ground is going to be very cold.
Therefore, you want to make sure you have the right dog bed for Fido. The best type here is a raised dog bed that will keep your dog warm by not letting the ground suck up their heat.
You should also pair the dog bed with a nice warm blanket. This simple, extra layer will provide even more warmth for your dog. If your four legged friend has a favorite blanket they like using at home, that’s the best option for camping as well.
Hey, why not go a step further and supply a few of your dog’s favorite toys. This will provide a home base for them out in the wilderness while keeping them happy and engaged.
6: Hot water bottles
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
If campers can take advantage of this common trick to keep themselves warm, why not use it for your pup? It’s a cheap and efficient way to add instant heat quick. Of course, you’ll need a way to boil water during your camping trip such as a propane heater.
Just make sure that the water is not too hot that it burns your dog. The best technique is to cover the hot water bottle with a cloth so it doesn’t touch your pet’s skin directly. Always test the hot water bottle yourself before giving it to your dog.
7: Doggie jackets are in
If you’re out hiking in the cold, chances are you’ve got yourself warmly wrapped in a nice jacket. Well, did you know that there are lots of choices for doggie outerwear? A well-fitting coat made specifically for dogs will not only offer protection from the cold, but also keep your doggo comfortable.
You’ll want to get your dog used to the jacket before you go camping to guarantee that your pet has no problems with it. Experts suggest associating the jacket with your pet’s favorite treat or toy. You can also train them on a system where the dogs actually let you know when they want to wear the coat.
You also need to watch out so your dog doesn’t get too hot. Take off the jacket if you suspect this is the case. If your dog resists, then you know they are comfortable wearing it.
And finally, you want to make sure the coat stays dry. Remove it if it gets wet to prevent your dog from getting chilled.
8: Consider doggie booties
You got your jacket, sleeping bag and doggie bed. Let’s finish up the ensemble with some kick-ass doggie booties.
Although a poodle’s paws can handle icy ground better than man’s bare feet, they risk cuts and cracks from being exposed to ice or snow. This is where a set of doggie boots come in to safeguard their paws and feet from the unforgiving rigidities of the trail.
Much like the jacket, try the boots on while home a few times prior to taking the actual trip. Your dog will walk funny initially but don’t worry too much about it. They tend to get accustomed real quick.
Try to encourage them to walk around in the boots by offering them treats. If the booties fail, you might need to get another type until you find a set that your dog is comfortable in.
If you don’t have booties, you’ll need to periodically check the paw pads and feet for painful balls of ice. Likewise, your dog will get cold faster so dry and warm up their paws and feet every couple hours. Products like balm and paw wax will also help keep the mutt’s paws protected, supple, and moisturized.
9: Get the right tent
If you’re tent camping, most dog owners keep their pets in the tent for the night. The body heat and tent insulation will help trap all the heat inside.
Alternatively, there are tents for dogs that will allow them to have their own space. However, a dog tent might not be the best option if your pet is overly excited or spazzy.
But if you’ll be sharing the tent with Fido, you’ll need to consider a few crucial factors. For starters, it helps if your tent is big enough for two or three adults. This will allow you to pack in a bit more equipment such as gas heaters and doggie beds. A small tent will limit what you can put inside and leave you short on space.
You also want a well-insulated tent that can handle strong winds. Great tents tend to have several ventilation flaps for optimal air circulation as well as a mosquito net to keep pesky pests at bay. The last thing you want is for your dog to spend a restless night fighting off bugs and ticks.
10: Portable heater
With technology getting more and more advanced, portable heaters are becoming a staple for campers. They offer a great and instant way to warm up your tent space.
Portable heaters (especially gas heaters) come with an array of safety features so you can have a great night sleep without worrying about Fido being cold. Just make sure you’re not using coal-burners in a tent to avoid inhaling carbon monoxide which can be poisonous.
11: Hydration is key
It’s common sense to pack plenty of water when carrying out any type of activity on a hot day. However, the same should also apply for camping in cold weather.
It takes considerable effort to trek through cold conditions. It can cause just as much exhaustion and dehydration as heat.
Signs of dehydration include noticeable slowing down, refusal to walk, lagging behind and general lethargy. These could also be signs that your dog is too cold. To avoid this, make sure you stop and hydrate regularly. You can even warm up some water or have packed soup for your dog.
The Final Word
There you have it – 11 easy to follow tips that will help keep your four legged friend warm. Camping is a great adventure, and sharing it with man’s best friend is hands down the best decision you can make.
Just be sure you know what you’re getting into when it comes to camping with your dogs. Fortunately, it all boils down to common sense.
If you think it’s too cold for your dog, it’s better to be on the safe side and seek shelter. Otherwise, just have fun on your camping trip and keep your pets active!